The Manila Times - - Front Page - BY CATHER­INE S. VA­LENTE barangay

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte is con­sid­er­ing ban­ning the use of plas­tic to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, Mala­cañang said on Thurs­day.

Palace spokesman Sal­vador Panelo said Duterte floated the need for a mea­sure to im­ple­ment a plas­tic ban dur­ing the Cab­i­net meet­ing on Wednes­day. Panelo added that the Pres­i­dent rec­og­nized the need for Congress to pass a leg­is­la­tion ban­ning the use of plas­tic prod­ucts.

“The Pres­i­dent floated the idea to ban the use of plas­tics, which ac­cord­ing to him would re­quire leg­isla­tive ac­tion,” Panelo said in a state­ment.

Panelo said the idea of ban­ning plas­tic

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte has ap­proved the re­lease of his of­fice’s con­tin­gency fund to con­tain the threat of African swine fever (ASF) in the coun­try, Mala­cañang said on Thurs­day.

In a state­ment, Palace spokesman Sal­vador Panelo said Duterte ap­proved the re­lease dur­ing the Cab­i­net meet­ing on Wednes­day fol­low­ing the re­quest of Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Dar to use the re­main­ing con­tin­gency fund of the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent to ad­dress ASF.

“To ad­dress the is­sue on African swine fever, the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive ap­proved Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Dar’s re­quest to use the re­main­ing con­tin­gent fund of the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent for the in­dem­ni­fi­ca­tion of hog rais­ers, and des­ig­nate cold stor­age ar­eas in the Ports of Manila, Su­bic, Batan­gas, Cebu and Davao for 100-per­cent mon­i­tor­ing of meat prod­ucts en­try,” Panelo said.

The Palace of­fi­cial did not give an es­ti­mate of the funds to be re­leased to the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

In Septem­ber, the Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment (DBM) re­leased P82.5 mil­lion in funds to the Bureau of An­i­mal In­dus­try, an at­tached agency of DA, for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of mea­sures that aim to pre­vent the fur­ther spread of ASF in the coun­try.

Of the amount, DBM said P31.8 mil­lion would be ap­pro­pri­ated for the main­te­nance of se­cu­rity mea­sures at in­ter­na­tional air­ports, par­tic­u­larly for the de­tec­tion of meat and meat prod­ucts, while P27.7 mil­lion would be used for the test­ing of sam­ples of meat and meat prod­ucts.

An­other P17.6 mil­lion will be used for sur­veil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, and the re­main­ing P5.4 mil­lion will be used for the con­duct of aware­ness cam­paigns and ca­pac­ity build­ing ini­tia­tives, it added.

The ap­proval of the re­lease of con­tin­gency fund came af­ter the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment con­firmed out­breaks of ASF in Caloocan and Mal­abon, as well as in 22 cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Pam­panga and Bu­la­can, in­clud­ing com­mer­cial farms in four ar­eas.

In a no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the World Or­ga­ni­za­tion for An­i­mal Health, the Philip­pines dis­closed 40,480 pigs were sus­cep­ti­ble to ASF in 24 out­breaks in Pam­panga, Bu­la­can, Caloocan and Mal­abon, which af­fected mostly back­yard farms in 140 (vil­lages).

Of the to­tal fig­ure, 555 pigs were con­sid­ered cases or al­ready af­fected by ASF, while 177 pigs died due to the fa­tal dis­ease, ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine re­port.

ASF can’t in­fect hu­mans and is not con­sid­ered a food safety risk, but it can be spread in­di­rectly through peo­ple’s cloth­ing, footwear, ve­hi­cles, farm equip­ment and live­stock feed.

Dur­ing Wednes­day’s press brief­ing in Mala­cañang, ASF task force’s Reildrin Mo­rales ex­pressed con­fi­dence that ASF in the coun­try could even­tu­ally be erad­i­cated, es­pe­cially if back­yard rais­ers, traders and the pub­lic co­op­er­ate with the gov­ern­ment.

“If farm­ers ob­serve biose­cu­rity mea­sures, a farm could avoid be­ing in­fected,” Mo­rales said.

ASF has so far re­sulted in the death and culling of nearly 70,000 hogs in Cavite, Que­zon City, Pan­gasi­nan, Bu­la­can, Pam­panga, Nueva Ecija, An­tipolo and Rizal.

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